If you are rushing throughout your day only to find you return home at the end of the night with wild cravings and the desire to eat everything in the fridge, I have news for you. You are not experiencing cravings, you are experiencing real hunger, and that is not a bad thing.
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Cravings & Hunger Aren’t Negative
Cravings and hunger have been given a negative connotation in our society, and I am here to unpack this bag and help you stop confusing hunger for cravings just because you are underfed. The truth is, you need to figure out where your cravings are coming from and have a good hard look at how you are feeding your body throughout the day to get to the root cause of your food intake.
Instead of perpetuating the shame circle, you need to balance your energy, nutrient and calorie intake to find a happy medium and figure out what works for you. If cravings seem to be running your life, this episode is your wake up call to help you figure out what you need to look at next in order to stop the mental and physical drainage and start enjoying your food and your life.
How do cravings play a role in how you relate to food? Share your personal experience with us and let me know how hunger integrates into your life in the comments below.
On Today’s Episode
- The difference between a low nutrient diet and a low energy diet (10:10)
- Addressing the prevalence of the dieting mentality in the wellness world (12:20)
- How to find a balance between energy intake and nutrient intake (13:45)
- Ways to know if the volume on your plate is unequal to the amount of energy you need (17:30)
- Understanding the connection between stress, your cycle and your cravings (20:32)
Resources Mentioned In This Show
“This is not a cravings problem. This is a lack of food problem.” (9:36)
“Relatively speaking, this 1200 calorie business has got to stop.” (10:50)
“If you get home at the end of the day and all you want to do is vacuum up everything that isn’t attached down in your kitchen, that’s not super glued to the refrigerator, that you just want to eat everything, I really need you to take an honest look at what you are taking in during the day.” (14:56)
“At the very baseline, we have our Basal Metabolic Rate, which is the amount of energy we need on a daily basis just for our body to function at its very most basic. And a lot of people are subsisting far, far below their Basal Metabolic Rate in what they are eating.” (17:18)
“This is not a failing of you, this is not a character flaw, but you do need to do something about it.” (20:26)
“Sometimes cravings aren’t cravings, they are just hunger.” (22:26)
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246: How To Know If It’s Cravings or Hunger FULL TRANSCRIPT
Hey there, welcome to episode 246 of Harder to Kill Radio. I’m your host, Steph Gaudreau. You have landed on a Friday episode of the show, which I call Fierce Love Friday and this is where I sit down on the mic solo to share my thoughts with you. Typically these are things that I see happening in my community, things that people are struggling with and my, my aim really as always is to bring you some things to think about or hopefully pass on some practical solutions or steps for you to apply in your life. And then of course sometimes I just rant my face off and I hear that people like that too. In any case, today’s show is really going to be about cravings specifically one of the most important questions that I get, which is how to stop cravings. And this topic is so broad.
It is so multifaceted. There are so many things I am not going to talk about today with cravings, but I do want to address one of the biggest concerns that I have and this is what I see with working with people in my core four program. This is what I observe with my online community, the core four, this is what I see on my Instagram. So these are things that the community at large maybe even you are is these are things that you all are struggling with. And my goal here is to try to unpack one piece of this. It’s like, you know, if we had all of our, if all the topic of cravings was a bunch of luggage on a luggage carousel, we’re going to take one suitcase off of this today and unpack that one suitcase knowing that there’s still so much more that we could dive into.
And the reason I bring this up is because on Instagram and on Facebook where this, this post originated from, I of course had a little graphic and the graphic had a pithy little statement. And of course there are some people that don’t read the caption and I get that, but at the same time people were like, but what about blah? And maybe they didn’t ask it in that tone. I inferred that tone, you know, but what about this, what about that? And yes, there are going to be things today that I don’t touch on that are absolutely things you want to consider when you’re, when we’re thinking about cravings. So just keep in mind this is not the full story. You’ll hear more on this in the near future as I unpack more suitcases having to do with cravings. Before we jump in, we’d love to remind you about The Core 4, which is my book that came out a couple months ago.
It is still new, it is still fresh. It is still top of my mind. And hopefully you’ve had a chance to go over to Amazon and pick up your copy or if you want to sign copy sent from me, you can go to my website to get your signed copy there. And when you do, I will send you a bonus.
Okie dokie. The graphic that I made and that I shared on Instagram and other elsewhere on social media said something to the effect of stop confusing hunger for cravings because you are underfed. So the aspect of cravings that I want to discuss today is when you’re not actually really having cravings, what you’re experiencing is hunger and there’s this, I want you to, I want to walk you through this scenario. Let’s just say you skip breakfast.
Maybe you’re fasting. That’s a whole other topic. I don’t want to get into that right now. Maybe you have a coffee or you just eat a little bite or two of something and then lunch comes around and your lunches, a small bowl of salad greens, a tiny amount of chicken. Maybe you put a little bit of dressing on, but it’s on the side and you’re hardly adding any to your meal. You get home in the late afternoon. By this point, the willpower, your willpower is pretty much gone and willpower isn’t just what you eat, the sort of energy that you spend resisting food. It has to do with everything else. Like you didn’t mouth off at your boss when your boss was being a jerk face. Somebody cut you off in traffic and you were like, okay, I’m not going to lay on the horn today.
Like all of those little things add up to erode your willpower and then you get home and all of a sudden you want to eat everything in sight, especially foods that are quick energy sources like sugary carbs. I mean let’s just call it, let’s just call it like it is, right? Nobody’s like, Oh gosh, I’m having, I feel such a craving or I’m feeling such a desire to eat a hard boiled egg. I mean that’s not typically what people are going to be craving. It’s the this sort of sugary quick energy carbs that are hanging around and if this is your regular pattern, this is happening day after day after day.
A lot of times what happens is people can’t figure out where these mysterious carb cravings are coming from and what often happens in this scenario is at some point you can’t help but giving into these cravings. I’m using air quotes here or the word cravings, which then for many people fuels the cycle of shame and continues to contribute to the desire to then further restrict food the next day on Monday, whatever that is. Right? So you get into this cycle of, okay, I have all these cravings, I’m going to give into these cravings because of course I’m, that’s just, I’m, I just can’t help it. I’m going to mentally beat myself up for it. And then of course, because now I feel guilty or I feel shameful, I’m going to try to correct the situation by ratcheting down even tighter, eating even less, delaying my meals, skipping meals. Okay, so fasting aside, and let me just get this out of the way. I said, no, this is going to come up. Intermittent fasting as a tool. Some people can use intermittent fasting as a tool and not have it become a restrictive tool in their nutrition toolbox.
Other people are, are just frankly not able to get a full day’s worth of food in their restricted, you know, time restricted eating window, six hours, eight hours, et cetera. And it’s every once in awhile. For a lot of people, fasting is not a problem, but when this is day after day after day, it contributes to even more and more and more a food restriction and you’re struggling eat a full day’s worth of food and a six to eight hour window on top of a stressful life. I have to call that out as not being healthy. So fasting is side. There just are a lot of things that have to go into it before you decide if fasting is even going to be a viable option for you. So all of that aside, the, the real talk here is that the scenario I just gave the person, this is not a cravings problem.
This is a lack of food problem. And when I say lack of food, there could be two different ways of looking at this. We could look out not being well fed in terms of the amount of energy that we are taking in. And by energy I mean calories and then there could be the aspect of not taking in enough nourishment or nutrition or nutrients. So we can think about energy wise, what’s going on. We can talk about nutrient wise, what’s going on. And oftentimes what happens is if we’re eating say a low nutrient diet, but we’re eating a lot of energy, right? Sometimes that can cause us to seek out certain foods. On the flip side, I tend to see this happening in, in this sort of like paleo, primal, real food vet, even vegetarian communities, which is something along the lines of I’m eating really nutrient dense foods, but I’m hardly eating anything relatively speaking.
This 1200 calorie business has got to stop and I’m seeing this more and more. And I’m sure that there are people listening to this episode right now that are thinking, “Okay Steph, nobody’s prescribing 1200 calorie diets anymore.” They are okay, it’s happening. And then what tends to happen is people say, well, what about people who are really small? Okay, we’re no one’s talking about that. Let’s not split hairs for the sake of splitting hairs. What are we’re talking about is active adults who are not and who do not happen to be extremely petite. Okay, that’s not what we’re talking about. So stop using that as a justification. So we get this very low calorie eating, low energy intake. Again, you know what? Human beings, we’re resilient. We can withstand variations and, and you know how much we’re eating. I don’t think we need to eat exactly the same amount of energy every single day.
Our bodies are smart. They also don’t punch a time clock. So sometimes I eat more, sometimes I eat less fine. But what my concern is is when the low energy intake, even relative to nutrient intake being pretty good, occurs over a longer period of time. And now we have people who are not eating enough food. And I bring this up because dieting mentality is still alive and well in the wellness world. And by wellness, I’m just like capturing all of the, all the catchall terms, right? Gluten-Free, the paleo, the primal, the Quito, the whole 30, the whatever protocols they’re talking about, whatever ways of eating. And I get it. A lot of people are like, these aren’t diets. All right? Maybe it’s not, you’re not seeing it as a diet. But what I am talking about is the ways of eating that when they’re not done in a conscious way, oftentimes lead people to bring their dieting mentality along for the ride. Sometimes it’s not even purposeful. Sometimes it is and I get it. Energy intake matters. Okay? So don’t come at me with the calories in, calories out, fucking argument over and over and over again. All that matters is calories. All that matters is calories. It’s not the only thing that matters. It does matter though. Okay? So we need to find a happy medium. But also if we strike that balance between energy intake and nutrient intake, our bodies generally know what, how to handle that.
But what I see is a lot of, I’m still dieting, even though I’m not calling it a diet, even if it’s not what the creators of this way of eating intended for me, I’m still bringing that dieting mentality into it. I’m still trying to restrict and cut back and eat as little as possible. And I’m telling you what part of my job is to assess what I see people eating.
And I see some shocking things and by shocking I’m, I tend not to see people over doing it with like the real whole food business, things like not butter and whatever aside. What I tend to see is very little food going on plates, very little. And again this is not from a judgmental point of view, but this is simply an observation. So if you get home and at the end of the day all you want to do is vacuum up everything that’s not, you know, attached down in your, in your kitchen, it’s not super glued to the, the refrigerator and you’re, you just want to eat everything. I really need you to take an honest look at what you are taking in during the day. And what is the pattern that happens is a couple things. First of all, some people they skip breakfast and they just get so fucking busy the rest of the day that they don’t eat lunch or they eat hairy little between breakfast and lunch and they get home and they are hungry, but they’re like, Oh I’m having all these cravings.
What you’re experiencing there is not, it’s not cravings, it’s hunger. Okay. And I know, again, this is like using, we’re talking about terminology here, but the connotation is, well sometimes hunger is perceived as a bad thing and that’s a whole other show that we could do, but cravings are bad and we need to deal with them somehow. We need to fix, we need to solve the reason why I’m having cravings. Oh my God, why am I having cravings? This is crazy. This is, this can’t happen. This is bad. Something’s wrong with me. So that happens quite a bit. The other thing that I see happening, and this is a little more inadvertent, is that
You might be making an honest effort to eat better. I’m using air quotes here. Whatever better means to you. You’re making an effort, you are putting more veggies on your plate, this and that, great. But what happens often is especially for increasing our vegetable content, and I don’t want anybody to say you’re telling people not to eat vegetables. No, I eat your vegetables. Okay, important fiber micronutrition, phytonutrients, water. Awesome. Love it. But what often happens is the veggies come in, the starches go out for a lot of people and what happens is they end up not, this is this, this scenario I described earlier, we’re getting good nutrient value, but we’re not getting very much energy, especially when we’re active. Whatever activity looks like for you, but at the very baseline we have our basal metabolic rate, which is the amount of energy we need on a daily basis just for our body to function at its very most basic and a lot of people are subsisting far, far below their beta basal metabolic rate with what they’re eating in terms of energy. So whether it’s purposefully restricting it is I’m bringing a diet mentality into a real food way of eating. It is completely not even realizing that you might be getting a lot of volume on your plate, but the amount of energy that you’re able to balance in there isn’t quite enough.
Suffice to say we need to stop treating this like a cravings problem and then also for folks who have a menstrual cycle and are naturally cycling, where you’re at in your cycle can cause fluctuations in your hunger, how much you feel like seeking out carbohydrates? Long and short of it is, and I’ve talked about this in another episode, but after you obviate progesterone starts to dominate over estrogen. Yes, we have both in both, both halves of the cycle pre and post oblation, but in the second half, progesterone is higher than estrogen. This can cause us to seek more carbohydrate and seek more food in general. So what I tend to see is that folks who are naturally cycling free, they’re like so freaked out that they’re there. Their appetite, their, you know, their body, their lit, they’re tuned into those cues, right? It could be a stomach growling, it could really be realizing you have a headache. It could be feeling light headed, it could be whatever that sensation or combination of sensations is like for you.
But it’s perceived as there’s something wrong with me because again, we believe or we’ve been taught by diet culture or the diet dieting mentality that we should be eating exactly the same amount every day. And if that varies, Oh my God, something is wrong, I need to fix it. And usually what, what folks tend to do is fix it by ignoring it. They’re like, I just can’t, I can’t eat more. And if we’re on a macros plan or a calories plan or whatever, look, you gotta do you. But it’s not what I do. And so my job is to point out that sticking to the same exact amount of energy intake because it was prescribed and ignoring these cyclical fluctuations, that’s not a, that’s not a failing of you. And that’s the point is that the failing of why am I hungry or this day, why am I hungry or in this, you know, last week when I’m pre-menstrual, why am I hungry or on this random Tuesday, why am I, you know, craving these sweets when I haven’t eaten all day and I get home and I’ve maybe had, you know, six to 800 calories in the, in the whole day or less.
This is not a failing of you. This is not a character flaw, but you do need to do something about it. And then the last piece I wanted to mention today is the connection of stress. You know, if, if you’ve stopped to consider the energy intake that you have, if you stopped to consider where you’re at in your cycle. If you’re somebody who has a cycle and all of that seems it’s pretty copacetic and you are going to have to look in other places. So you, what if you’ve increased the amount that you’re eating. You’re like, I’m no, I’m not in the second half of my cycle or whatever it is are not naturally naturally cycling. I don’t really know where else to turn. There are tons of other things having to do with food that we could talk about. I mean things like if you start the day off and you have sugar cravings immediately, maybe let’s do a savory breakfast. I mean there’s so many different things we could talk about different nutrients that you might need, et cetera, et cetera. But I want to draw your attention to a non food things momentarily. So if you feel like I have looked into food, I’ve eaten more, whatever, and you feel like cravings are still running your life, you’ve got to look outside of food.
So things like stress, overworking yourself, lack of sleep, emotional things that you need to deal with. All of these things are areas to look at next because that mentally being that mentally and emotionally worn down, being in that state
Just makes us more vulnerable in so many different ways and can contribute to our blood sugar being a little bit dysregulated or a lot dysregulated depending on who we are. So there’s so many things to consider here, but I really want you to take away from this episode, this key phrase that sometimes cravings aren’t cravings, they are just hunger. Now we didn’t cover, we didn’t cover all sorts of other things. Like why the idea of just eating more is not so easy for a lot of people to do. And all of the other things that could go along with this emotional eating, how to increase your energy intake. If you’re really stuck on weight loss and that’s your primary focus and you all know that I deal with health gain, not weight loss, but I still have people in this community who are trying to juggle all of these things simultaneously and it is not easy and it leads really to a house divided.
So stick around for more episodes where we explore other things, other aspects of cravings. But I would really love to know what you think. So what you can do is hit subscribe on your podcast app and leave a review with your thoughts. What did you think? And if you would like to start a conversation, come over to the Core 4 Club on Facebook. That’s our closed Facebook community where lots of discussions like this happened to be going on all the time. You can head over to Facebook and find us there. Again, Core 4 Club. I would love to see you there. All right. That’s a wrap on this episode. I hope you have a wonderful weekend ahead and until next Tuesday, be well.